Landslide Closes Busy Highway

Friday, April 11th 2008, 12:49 pm
By: News On 6

ODOT engineers are working to come up with a plan to repair a 600 foot section of Highway 20.  Heavy rain has caused the highway to slowly slip down Keetonville Hill, which is between Owasso and Claremore.  News On 6 anchor Craig Day reports the road is too dangerous for vehicles right now.

The guard rail has pulled away and the asphalt is buckling and cracked.

"It is still moving, it's not stable yet by any means so we want to keep the public off of it, until we know for sure that it is at least passable and until repairs are made," said ODOT Spokesperson Kenna Mitchell.

Heavy rain on already saturated ground is causing soil underneath the road to slide, taking the pavement with it.  Engineers are evaluating the road to determine the best way to fix it.  Options could include a retaining wall, supports underneath or rebuilding the road.

"It's something that's going to cost money to repair, it's money that we certainly are a little short on right now, but we'll certainly make the repairs and do the best we can to get the road opened back up," said ODOT Division Engineer Randle White.

Funding could come from an emergency appropriation from the legislature or existing ODOT funds assigned somewhere else.

Ian Vancusen lives at the top of the hill and overlooks the highway.

"It was kind of worrisome, we just took out insurance on the house and we were wondering if that's going to cover it, with all the rain happening and stuff.  It kind of makes you wonder," said Vancusen.

Engineers say no homes are in danger.

While the mudslide comes as quite a surprise for people who live in the area, the detour is something they've grown used to.  About a year and a half ago, the stretch of the highway was shut down for repair work to a bridge.

Drivers will now face lengthy detours again, including Andrea McCarthy who is a Rogers State University student.

"I had to go all the way to Oologah, so I was late for class," said McCarthy. "I just live here in Owasso off Highway 20, so it was about 45 minutes out of my way."

ODOT says the highway will be closed for two to three months. The repair costs are expected to be more than a million dollars.

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